Sunday, April 11, 2021

A Word on Mordants

Mordant Gilding is a term used in gilding that relates to the use of an adhesive medium and considered an 
23k gold leaf on leather with acrylic emulsion

alternative method to Traditional Water Gilding. There are various mordants that we can choose from when gilding although Oil Size and Water Based Adhesive (a white acrylic emulsion such as the Sepp Leaf Workshop brand) are the two most popular in contemporary gilding alongside Instacoll and Miniatum by Kölner.

I also think of glair and gum ammoniac as mordants, two very old bonding mediums used for adhering gold leaf to paper and glass. Glair, discussed by Ceninni in his 15th c Treatise Il Libro Dell’Arte, is beaten egg white mixed with a little water and allowed to sit out overnight and the froth removed the next day. It provides a strong bond and when weakened with additional distilled water it’s brilliancy on glass can rival that of the more often-used gelatin size as we have seen in our églomisé/glass Online gilding classes.

Gum Ammoniac, a gum resin that exudes from the stem of the herb Dorema Ammoniacum can be found in Iran and Northern Africa. It is used by Calligraphers and historically goes back centuries for use in Manuscript Illumination. Through my own exploration I have found it to also be a candidate for gilding on glass to achieve a bright gild.

For those seeking ways to gild on leather, glair has been the traditional medium for bookbinding and bookedge gilding. However, I have also found acrylic emulsion to be a quick and decoratively successful way of gilding the smooth side of leather which, showing through my recent testing, to be a flexible mordant for leather. ~

Note: For those interested in an entry level introduction to the art of bookedge gilding a Zoom! Online 4 session class is scheduled through Charles Douglas Gilding Studio October 6-27, 2021. Registration is currently open at

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